When cleaning large gaps between teeth, an interdental brush is more user-friendly than floss. Many of my patients love this product so much they use these brushes instead of toothpicks after meals. The common brands of these products are Piksters or TePe.
The tip is flexible and can be bent 90 degrees for easy access around tight corners. Some are already made with 90 degrees bend. Interdental brushes come in different tip sizes, usually distinguished by different colors of the handle. The correct size for your use should be big enough that you can feel the bristles brushing against the side of your teeth, but not too big that you have to force it into the gap. These brushes can be cleaned and reused. A replacement is needed when the tip is damaged. Once you’ve figured out the sizes that suit you, getting a bulk pack can last you many months.
Here are situations where interdental brushes are really useful for.
Wear and tear happens throughout your life. When gum receded between your teeth, it created a space which dentists often call “black triangle”. This area is a food trap that toothbrush doesn’t clean out very well. Using interdental brushes makes cleaning a lot easier.
Missing teeth or behind last teeth
With all your teeth in the mouth, we develop a habit of cleaning teeth on the cheek side, the tongue side and on top of your teeth. When you’re missing a tooth, we often forget to clean on the side of teeth facing the gap. These surfaces, as well as behind the last teeth in your mouth are difficult spots to reach with normal toothbrush. The picture to the right shows how interdental brush can be used in these areas. Generally a large brush size like Piksters #7 is suitable for this use.
Cleaning under implant bridges
Implants and bridges
More and more patients had complex treatment in their mouths including implants and bridges. These prostheses need to be maintained, otherwise the damage can be costly. The issue is that these prostheses are not easy to clean. You have the option of using super floss but if the prostheses were designed with enough gap underneath, interdental brush can make cleaning a less daunting task.
If you had braces in your mouth in the past you would understand how hard it was to keep your teeth clean with brackets and wire everywhere. Result after removing braces can be disappointing when poor oral hygiene leaves white and brown spots around where brackets sat. Interdental brushes will be your best friend here.